Woman believes dog was stolen for drug money
A Vancouver woman fears that her beloved Yorkshire Terrier was kidnapped by someone who needed money to buy illegal drugs in the city's Downtown Eastside.
It's the second suspected theft of a small dog in Vancouver in the past two weeks.
Margot Robinson brings her five-year-old Yorkie Lakai with her everyday to the high-end clothing store she manages on Water Street in Gastown.
The pooch frequently wanders outside to pee, but on Tuesday night, the dog didn't return.
Neighbours told Robinson they saw a man with a backpack leaving the area with Lakai.
"I'm praying – this is sickening," she told ctvbc.ca. "He's just five pounds, very much a baby. He's like family."
She said police told her that her pet was likely taken by someone living in the impoverished area.
"They said it's likely someone trying to get some money for drugs. What kind of person would do that?" she said.
Robinson has plastered the area with more than 600 posters. She's also offering a cash reward for the dog's safe return.
A woman from a low-rent SRO hotel in the area contacted Robinson last night saying one of its tenants was in possession of the dog.
She staked out the hotel for hours, but when the man emerged, she saw that it wasn't her dog, but just a similar Yorkie.
"It's heartbreaking," Robinson said.
Lakai has a life-threatening tracheal medical condition that requires daily medication.
A growing trend?
Dog trainer Christine Reynard knows all about the heartbreak of having a dog stolen.
She scoured the streets of the Downtown Eastside for days after her deaf 11-year-old pug Roxy was stolen from inside of her East Vancouver dog training business earlier this month.
Reynard said people she spoke with in the area told her that dog kidnappings are common.
"They told me that this stuff happens all the time -- that the dogs, especially small dogs, are traded for drugs and money," Reynard told ctvbc.ca.
The trainer was reunited with Roxy after a call from a Good Samaritan, who saw the dog with a young woman in Coquitlam.
But Reynard wants other dog owners to know that their dogs aren't safe left unattended, or tied up outside a store.
"Even if it's just for two minutes. You think ‘who's going to do it?' But it can happen so fast, and it happened to me," she said.
Earlier this year, Fraser Valley Mounties issued a public warning after the suspected theft of three dogs from the same Chilliwack neighbourhood.
Police said pet owners should keep identification tags on their pet at all times, get it tattooed and keep an updated file of veterinarian records. It is also helpful to keep a current photo of your pet, especially if it has any identifiable markings.
"It's like having one of your family members taken from right underneath your nose," Cpl. Tammy Hollingsworth said.